BUSINESSES in and around Dunbar are set to enjoy a massive boost after more than 800 additional workers arrived at Torness Power Station.

A major 11-week maintenance programme, worth about £34 million, got under way at the EDF Energy nuclear power station last Friday.

One of the two reactors at the power station, to the east of the town, is being taken offline.

The programme means hundreds of extra workers will join the 750-strong regular workforce for the maintenance period, known as a “statutory outage”.

Robert Gunn, station director, said: “It is Torness Power Station’s 30th birthday this year and this is the 22nd statutory outage we have carried out at the station.

“We are very well practised at them and over the years we have built great relationships with the extra workers who come and support us during the outages.

“These workers will be staying in local hotels and B&Bs, eating in the area’s restaurants and using taxi firms.

“It is great that our investment in the power station can also benefit our local community just as the peak tourist season is coming to an end.

“We carry out maintenance and inspections on the units that generate the electricity all-year-round but a statutory outage gives us the chance to carry out pieces of work that are not possible when the reactor is operating.”

Philip Mellor, chairman of Dunbar Trades’ Association (DTA) and owner of the Dunmuir Hotel, was delighted with the news.

He said: “It is very positive news.

“I am delighted to welcome people to Dunbar and certainly as we move into the quieter season, as the holidaymakers have left, it is the ideal time for EDF to run this type of project.

“It will massively benefit the community as a whole.”

EDF Energy carries out a statutory outage on each of its reactors once every three years.

These are planned in advance with the National Grid to ensure that there is no impact on the national electricity supply.

The other reactor at Torness is due to continue operating normally throughout the period.

During the outage workers will carry out more than 12,000 separate pieces of work – each carefully planned during the last two years of preparation.

The biggest projects include fitting of additional reactor gas temperature instrumentation, exchange of the turbine intermediate and low-pressure rotors, and replacement of auxiliary cooling water pipework systems.

Torness Power Station’s two nuclear reactors generate enough electricity to power more than two million homes and started operating in 1988.

The station employs more than 500 full-time staff and about 250 full-time contract partners.

Since it opened, Torness has produced enough low-carbon electricity to save the equivalent of 84.8 million tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) during its 30 years of operation, the same as taking all of the passenger cars off the UK’s roads for more than a year.